From left: Andreas Kolb, Charlie Hatton and Laurie Greenland. Photo: UCI

Down Hill World Championships 2023

Midge nets and raincoats are required kit this north into Scotland; if there are any certainties in Fort William, it’s that you’ll need one or the other. This weekend was no exception, but the rain didn’t stop a weekend of great racing.

The elite women were treated to relatively dry weather, with Fort William local and Queenstown resident Louise Ferguson slotting into fourth after Vali Höll, Camille Balanche and Marine Cabirou.

“I’m so pumped to be fourth,” said Louise. “I know people say it’s the worst position and the first step off the podium, but I feel like I won today.”

But the weather had a different plan for the men’s final. The rain came halfway through the race, in a low cloud that sat over the top part of the course, a haze of soft spray that turned the dirt to a slick, sloppy mud. The hot seat was occupied by Suarez for the first portion of the race (visibly shivering in the spitting rain), as changing conditions threw off predicted race runs.

It was Charlie Hatton, the Atherton rider from the UK, who set down the time to beat, hurtling into first in a time of 4:26.747. Mistakes from race favourites kept Hatton in the hot seat, with Thibaut Daprela crashing over the bars, teammate Andreas Kolb letting a foot off in the woods that set him back the necessary 0.6 seconds and Loic Bruni slotting into fourth behind Laurie Greenland.

Maybe it was the home crowd, maybe it was the British-made (and Welsh weather tested) Atherton bikes both Hatton and Kolb rode that sent their riders into first and second, maybe the Brits are just built for wet riding?

“To be honest, as soon as I’d seen the rain I had a little smile on my face,” Hatton told British Cycling.

“It’s my favourite track and I know how well it runs in the wet. The commitment of the crowd was insane, up there in those bleak conditions.”